Middle East News
Syria vows to cooperate with Annan and fight "terrorism"
Mar 16, 2012, 16:07 GMT
Beirut- Syria vowed to cooperate with UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan, as violence continued Friday across Syria, claiming the lives of at least 31 people, according to activists.
Annan was reported by broadcasters Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera to have told the UN Security Council he would dispatch 'a technical team' made of two or three members to Damascus next week with the aim of negotiating a possible international monitoring mission.
The Foreign Ministry in Damascus said Syria was 'moving ahead with its efforts to find a political solution to the crisis it is going through in cooperation with the UN special envoy Kofi Annan, and through enhancing the democratic achievements it has started since March 2011 in various fields.'
However, it vowed to continue military operations.
'The Syrian government is continuing to do its duty to protect its citizens, disarm terrorism and hold its perpetrators to account,' the ministry said, according to state-run news agency SANA.
The Foreign Ministry sent identical letters to the Security Council and the UN secretary general, as well as to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commission for Human Rights on the crimes recently perpetrated by what it termed 'terrorist groups' in Homs and other provinces.
Since the outbreak of the revolution against President Bashar al-Assad in mid-March 2011, Syrian authorities have blamed terrorist gangs financed by the West and certain Arab countries.
During a peace mission to Syria last week, Annan put proposals to al-Assad, including a halt to violence, securing humanitarian access to civilian areas and initiating inclusive political dialogue.
The former UN chief left Syria without a deal. Annan who gave a video conference briefing from Geneva to the UN Security Council Friday, part of which was leaked to the press, stressed that despite the 'disappointing answer' from Damascus he would continue his mission, which he described as 'difficult.'
Meanwhile, violence continued to grip the provinces of Homs, Hama Idlib and Dara, while the opposition called for protests across the country in support of the pro-democracy revolution.
'Today (Friday) is a big day. Take to the streets and chant for freedom,' activists wrote on the opposition Facebook page of the Syrian Revolution 2011.
Government forces shelled a restive district in Syria's central Homs province to prevent residents from joining protests, opposition activists said. Five were killed and 10 injured in the shelling of al-Bayyada area, they said.
'Shells rained on the neighbourhood shortly before noon prayers, after which the people were set to take to the streets in protest,' Omar Homsi, an activist based in the province, told dpa by satellite phone.
In Idlib, government forces continued to attack the outskirts of the city searching for escaping members of the opposition Free Syrian Army. Activists reported that 10 people were killed by the security forces in Idlib, among them six rebels.
In the province of Hama, 12 people were killed by security forces, while four were killed in Daraa, near the Jordan-Syrian border.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that 9,113 people, mainly civilians, had been killed across Syria since anti-government protests began last year.
News from Syria is hard to verify independently as the government has restricted the movement of foreign media in the country.
The continued violence prompted Turkey to urge its citizens to leave Syria, saying developments there have led to 'serious security risks' and added that some of its consular services would be halted on March 22.
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